Decorative Gift Basket

Creative DIY gift baskets make a thoughtful gift for friends and family.

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If you're anything like me, gift-giving can be quite a daunting experience. I like to find that perfect gift, but what do you get for that hard-to-buy-for person or occasion? I've discovered a gift idea so versatile that it can be used for any occasion and is sure to please everyone on your list.

Creative gift baskets provide that personal gift to friends and family. They're even fun to make, too.

Deciding the theme of the basket is often the most difficult part. It's easiest to focus on hobbies and special interests, although food items can also be the focus of the basket. For some people, like my decorating partner, Matt Fox, food makes an excellent choice for a gift basket, as eating is one of his very special interests!

Need a gift for a gardener, a new car owner, a college student, or the parent of a college student? Gift baskets are an answer to your gift-giving prayers.

What kinds of things are included in a gift basket? The sky's the limit, along with your budget. To bring a smile to a gardener's face, include gloves, tools, seed packets or small terra cotta pots.

Or include a coffee mug decorated with flowers and some herbal tea to enjoy after spending long hours working in the garden. You could use a garden basket for this gift, or you might want to put the items in a large straw hat.

A new car is a very exciting event, especially for the first-time buyer. What better way to celebrate the purchase than with a gift of air freshener, car wash, chamois, tire cleaner and an ice scraper? Add a visor organizer and a pair of fuzzy dice, put it all in a big bucket and your new car owner is set for the road.

Sending a friend off to college? Put together a "care package" gift basket. You might include a box of homemade cookies, a mug and hot chocolate mix and a variety of other snacks for those late-night study sessions. A framed family picture and a phone card will help ease any signs of homesickness. (Throw in a roll of quarters for laundry and this basket will be the envy of the entire dorm.)

And how about the parents who just sent their child off to college? A stress relief basket including a CD of soothing music, scented candles, bubble baths and scented lotions would surely be appreciated.

As you can see, ideas for creating gift baskets are virtually unlimited.

Once you have chosen all the gifts for your basket, it's time for the assembly. Choose a container which will hold your gifts. The container itself does not have to be expensive but should fit the theme of the gift, if possible.

If you can't think of a special container, a basket is generic choice. The other items you will need for the basket are packing paper, shredded colored paper, floral picks or greenery, 24- or 30- inch clear cellophane, and curling ribbon.

Because you want all the gift items visible, you'll need to fill the bottom of the basket with wadded packing paper. Press the paper firmly in place, leaving the top (about one fourth of the basket) exposed.

Add shredded paper to the top of the basket. Shredded paper is available in many colors and styles at most craft stores, but if you have access to a paper shredder you can make your own.

Now add the gifts. Taller items go in back, forming a "wall." Lean the medium-sized items against this wall, and place smaller gifts along the front rim of the basket. To enhance your basket, add floral picks or greenery to fill in any empty spaces.

To determine the length of the cellophane needed to wrap the basket, measure both sides of the basket and add 24 inches. Gather the cellophane on the front and back of the basket, overlapping the sides towards the back.

Using a piece of ribbon, tie the cellophane securely. Tape the sides of the cellophane down. To finish the basket, attach a few more lengths of ribbon and curl the ends.

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